Cubs Game Recap: Samardzija pitches, hits Cubs to win; Soriano and Baker save the day on defense

You normally don't mention Soriano and good defense in the same headline, but this year the Cubs left fielder has some renewed focus out in the field.  I'm almost expecting him to make that diving catch every so often.  This time, it helped preserve a 2-1 lead when he made a diving catch, then doubled off pitcher Eric Stults, who was already halfway around 3rd.  1B Jeff Baker also made a game saving play in the bottom of the 8th when the Padres had cut the lead to 4-3 and put a man on 3rd with nobody out.  Yonder Alonso hit a line drive that Baker snared with a backhanded dive to his right to prevent the tying run from scoring and preserving the win for Jeff Samardzija.

On the Mound:

I'm starting to get past the point where I'm wondering if Jeff Samardzija is for real.  I'm expecting him to do well every time out.  Today was no exception.  Samardzija had good command for the first 7 innings, save for a fastball he left up for Carlos Quentin.  He seemed to tire in the 8th and once gain left a couple of pitches up.  A triple by Will Venable made the score 4-3 in the 8th with nobody out, setting the stage for Shawn Camp to get out of that inning, with help from Baker's glove.

James Russell came in to get the last 2 outs of the game to get his first career MLB save.  The win was Samardzija's 5th of the year against 3 losses.  He has a 3.09 ERA.

At the Plate:

Watching this game, I got the feeling the Cubs should have been doing more against Stults in the first 4 innings, especially with the wind blowing out.  They finally got to him in the 5th when Stults repeatedly got behind, then when he did throw a strike missed inside and the Cubs made him pay.  Reed Johnson singled and then was doubled home by Darwin Barney to tie the game.  After Barney went to 3rd on a sac fly, Stults once again got behind, missed inside and Samardzija drove Barney home with a go ahead single.  That seemed to open the door as the Cubs scored at least once in each of the last 4 innings.  Soriano added to the lead with a 400+ HR to CF in the 6th, while Barney got his second double of the game and eventually scored on a passed ball in the 7th.   The Cubs added a much welcomed insurance run in the bottom of the 8th when Joe Mather hit an Andrew Cashner 100 mph fastball opposite field for a double, then was singled home by Jeff Baker.

On a side note, we can expect to continue seeing the RH lineup as Mather, Baker, and Reed Johnson all contributed on offense and took part in the scoring.  It's not my favorite lineup in the world, but hey, if it works...

The lowdown:

The Cubs win 5-3 for their 2nd in a row after a 12 game losing streak.  In the grand scheme of things it doesn't mean much but it looks like the players are regaining their confidence and for me, as a fan, it's making the games much more enjoyable to watch again.  I'll probably be at the game tomorrow, so hopefully the Cubs make it 3 in a row before they head off to the west coast.

 

 

 

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  • fb_avatar

    WE'RE GOING STREAKING!!!

  • I never thought I would hear the words "Soriano" and "good defense" in the same sentence, but he and Castro have both looked a lot better on defense lately.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Me neither. Castro's defense is more sustainable but great to see Soriano's hard work this offseason pay off.

  • This really is bullpen by committee by the Cubs, just unplanned. By the end of this month Marmol will be closer again, hopefully playing well enough to trade him.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think it's only a matter of time before Marmol is the closer.

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    As we kiss May goodby, June should bring the first sight of Rizzo. Any speculations on what the team might look like at the end of next month? John, do you feel Stewart will be with the team the whole year? His defense has really been a notch above Aramis' but no bat, just like last year. I wish DS had given Mather this shot when he was red-hot coming out of spring training. Hope we can see his bat heat up.

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    I think we'll see a Stewart/Mather platoon at 3B once Jackson and Rizzo come up. I'll have to give it some thought.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Stewart in Detroit would make a lot of sense. They could move Cabrera back to first, and the defensively challenged Fielder could become the.permanent DH. Being in a better lineup would probably help Stewart's bat as well.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Interesting suggestion. Sure would improve Tiger defense and might actually help Stewart at plate. Makes room to see Mather more too.

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    In reply to Hubbs16:

    Well, someone out there in blogland was mulling over possible trade destinations for Dempster. Of which, Detroit is one. Their idea was to include Stewart in the deal in order to entice the Tigers to give the Cubs Castellano. They also suggested the Cubs include Vitters. I thought the idea had merit.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I know some people aren't as high on Vitters as others but at 22 I think it WAY too early to give up on the kid coming off a good year. He has plenty of time. I'd at least give him a year and a half at AAA to see if he puts it together.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I don't think that the trade would count as giving up on Vitters. Castellanos would simply be an upgrade in terms of prospect upside. Vitters is hitting better lately though.

    I haven't given up on Stewart though. It seems like he makes strong contact on balls in play, just continues to hit it straight at a glove.

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    In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    Yea Stewart has terrible luck. Imo I think we will be too left handed and if Vitters improves the way I think he will and Stewart puts up decent numbers I think Ian could net you a nice prospect for a team with a hole at 3rd and willing to make a similar deal the cubs made to get him. One deal I saw on a blog was Ian Stewart for Dominic Brown. Ian would look great in a Philly uni and Brown still has a lot of upside and could be our potential right fielder of the future if he puts it together and we don't get soler.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    We'll probably get to rumors when we feel there might actually be something going on. I don't think anything will happen for at least a couple of weeks.

  • About halfway through the game yesterday, I asked myself if Shark was the ace of our staff. Not sure of the answer - right now maybe yes, but when Garza is on ... Shark has certainly been more consistent.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    It's a legit question. I'd have to go with Shark as well right now.

  • I was totally worong about Camp. When he joined the team I thought he was gonna be just another journeyman reliever.

    Turns out he's the guy you can count on, mainly because he doesn't hand out free passes.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Cubs need more of those guys. They have a lot of hard throwers but too many who put guys on and get themselves in trouble.

  • John, in addition to Baker, Mather and Johnson, I wonder if Barney is part of the Cubs' vaunted RH lineup?

    Because like most here, I want to see more of Cardenas. Of course, it's pretty crazy to swap half your lineup depending on what hand the pitcher throws with.

    Ironically, Barney's been dreadful against lefties: Prior to Tuesday's breakout, he'd only had six hits in 35 ABs! Whereas against righties, he's a very respectable .283. All the same, I really hope we see Cardenas against right-hander Anthony Bass this afternoon.

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